By population, Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the U.S. Covering nearly 503 square miles and known for its traffic congestion, Los Angeles can be difficult for visitors to navigate. People who visit Los Angeles have multiple transportation options, including taxis, rental cars, limousine services, buses, and more. Using ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft is also another great way to get where you need to go in Los Angeles without having to try to follow directions on mapping apps while navigating the city’s congested traffic.

What are Uber and Lyft?

Uber and Lyft are ride-sharing apps that can be used by subscribers to hail rides. Uber was founded in 2009 while Lyft came onto the scene in 2012. Since their founding, these two ride-sharing companies have become increasingly popular as a more affordable way for people to get where they need to go without having to rent a car or hail a taxi.

As taxi alternatives, Uber and Lyft provide rides to people who order them through independent contractors who sign up to drive for the apps. The drivers must undergo background checks before they can drive for Uber or Lyft. They can either use their own vehicles or rent a vehicle to use through Uber or Lyft’s agreements with various car rental companies. Both Uber and Lyft have specific requirements for the vehicles that drivers use for the companies’ various ride-sharing services. For example, the minimum requirements for a vehicle for UberX include the following:

  • No more than 15 years old
  • Four doors with five seats and seatbelts
  • Working air conditioning and windows
  • No rebuilt/salvaged vehicles
  • No box trucks or vans
  • No marked vehicles, taxis, or government vehicles
  • Registered and insured in California
  • No holes, oxidized paint, or wraps that include advertisements
  • No significant damage to the vehicle’s interior
  • Uniform paint color
  • No aftermarket modifications

Other services such as Uber XL, Uber Black, and Uber Black SUV have different requirements, including such things as having seating for seven people, having newer vehicles, or having black, late-model cars or SUVs for luxury rides. Like Uber, Lyft also offers services at different levels and varying vehicle requirements, depending on the ride-hailing service an individual uses to hail a ride.

Drivers whose vehicles do not meet the standards required by Uber or Lyft can rent vehicles through agreements the companies have with different car rental companies. Some drivers also choose to rent a vehicle to use while driving for Uber or Lyft to avoid wear and tear to their personal vehicles.

How do you order rides in LA from Uber or Lyft?

You can get started by downloading the Uber or Lyft app to your smartphone. Downloading the app is free, but you will have to input your credit or debit card information. You also need to have a good Wi-Fi signal on your phone since these apps use GPS to locate you. You can schedule rides up to 30 days in advance from within the app. You will need to enable your device’s location services to use the Uber or Lyft app.

When you schedule your ride, you will have to enter information about your destination, which type of vehicle you are requesting, and confirm your pickup location. The app will then provide a price estimate and give you an estimated time of arrival. The estimated time of arrival is not guaranteed, however.

There might be multiple Uber or Lyft drivers in your area when you order your ride. An Uber or Lyft driver can choose to accept your request. When a driver does, you will receive a photo of your driver, the vehicle, and the license plate. It is important for you to check the driver, vehicle, and license plate against the photo you receive to ensure that you are getting into the right vehicle. The driver will then use mapping software to get you to your destination.

You do not have to pay the driver when you order an Uber or Lyft ride. Instead, payment will be made through the app using the credit or debit card information you provided once you arrive at your destination. You will then have the opportunity to add a tip and rate the driver.

Ordering a ride from Uber or Lyft from LAX

You can order a ride from Uber or Lyft to pick you up from LAX. However, you might need to take a shuttle to the pickup location. Uber and Lyft vehicles are not allowed to stop and remain near the airport for long periods because of security concerns. The pickup location for most Uber and Lyft vehicles is the LAX-it lot. Once you arrive and reach LAX-it, you will then need to get in the ride-hailing line to get your ride.

Using Uber or Lyft during your stay in Los Angeles

Once you reach your hotel, you can continue using Uber or Lyft to easily get around LA. You can schedule your rides in advance by entering your destinations and the time you would like to travel. Be aware that there might be peak travel times when rides are in greater demand when prices will go up. However, using Uber or Lyft during your stay in Los Angeles is substantially cheaper than using taxi services or renting a car, and you also won’t have to try to figure out how to reach your destinations.

Safety tips when using Uber or Lyft in Los Angeles

It is important for you to take several precautions to remain safe when using Uber or Lyft in Los Angeles. Even when you follow these tips, however, you will still face a risk of being involved in a Lyft accident or Uber accident just like you are when you ride in any car. Follow these eight tips to protect your safety while using Uber or Lyft in LA.

  1. Don’t wait outside while waiting for your ride.

When you order a ride through the Uber or Lyft app, remain inside until the vehicle arrives. The app will tell you when the vehicle has arrived. It is a good idea to remain inside of a building instead of waiting outside when you are in a dark or unfamiliar area.

  1. Check the vehicle and driver.

Before you get into a vehicle, double-check it to make sure it is the right car. Verify the driver’s name, and check the vehicle’s license plate. You can ask the driver to show you his or her phone to verify his or her photo. This is important because there have been several incidents in which a person was kidnapped or murdered after getting into the wrong vehicle instead of the Uber or Lyft that he or she ordered.

  1. Always sit in the back seat of the Lyft or Uber vehicle.

When you get into an Uber or Lyft vehicle, sit in the back seat. This will provide some distance between you and the driver and allow you to have access to both back doors if you need to quickly exit the car.

  1. Share your status with a friend.

When you order a ride, you will have the option to share your status with a friend. Sharing your status will send the driver’s information to your friend so that they know how to track him or her down in an emergency.

  1. Do not give any personal information to your driver.

You do not need to share any personal information with your driver. When your request for a ride is sent through the app, you will be assigned an anonymous number for your safety. Do not share details like your name, home address, phone number, or any other personal details with your driver.

  1. Always buckle up.

You should always wear a seat belt whenever you ride in any vehicle, including an Uber or Lyft. Wearing a seatbelt can reduce your risk of injuries if the Lyft or Uber driver gets into an accident during your ride.

  1. Avoid getting overly intoxicated.

Many people use Uber and Lyft as a safe way to return to their homes or hotels after a night out socializing and drinking. While it is certainly better to use Uber or Lyft to return to your home or hotel after a night out on the town than to drive yourself, it is still important to avoid getting overly intoxicated. You need a clear mind so you can protect yourself if necessary.

  1. Trust your instincts.

It is important for you to trust your instincts whenever you order a ride from Uber or Lyft. If you believe that the driver might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should get out of the vehicle and get a different ride.

Uber and Lyft provide excellent alternatives for getting around Los Angeles. Once you download the app, you can easily schedule rides. Make sure to follow the safety tips to protect yourself while getting where you need to go during your visit.